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China: Personal computers must have porn blocks

BEIJING — China has issued a sweeping directive requiring all personal computers sold in the country to include sophisticated software that can filter out pornography and other "unhealthy information" from the Internet.

The software, which manufacturers must install on all new PCs starting July 1, would allow the government to regularly update computers with an ever-changing list of banned Web sites.

The rules, issued in May, ratchet up Internet restrictions that are already among the most stringent in the world. China regularly blocks Web sites that discuss the Dalai Lama, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters and the Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement.

But free-speech advocates say they fear the new software could make it even more difficult for China's 300 million Internet users to obtain uncensored news and information.

"This is a very bad thing," said Charles Mok, chairman of the Hong Kong chapter of the Internet Society, an international advisory group on Internet standards. "It's like downloading spyware onto your computer, but the government is the spy."

The software is designed to filter out sexually explicit images and words, according to the company that designed it. Computer experts, however, warn that once installed, the software could be directed to block all manner of content or allow the government to monitor Internet use and collect personal information.

China: Personal computers must have porn blocks 06/08/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 8, 2009 11:53pm]

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